August 4, 2015
There's an uneasiness about driving our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette that's hard to reconcile with the car's reputation. This is, after all, a revered sports car, right? Truth be told, it's terrifying. Initially, at least. I know because I was the guy wheeling the Vette for its recent comparison test vs. the Toyota Camry. It's rare for any car evaluation to reach the conclusion that faster isn't always better, but that's our finding with the Stingray.
Every move I made in my first few minutes behind the wheel of the Vette came accompanied by an unmitigated sense of horror. You see, the realm of comfort I'd prefer in a modern car — let's call it 8/10ths driving — is the worst place to drive this Stingray. Drive it like that and it's both alarmingly unstable and regrettably slow.
The problem stems from a supreme sense of disconnectedness that's obvious from the first turn of the thin-rimmed wheel. Compounding that are abundant secondary motions giving the impression that any attempt at purposeful driving will immediately issue in a pile-up of kinematic disasters. The truth lies somewhere in between.
But so does the magic.
Don't be a sissy, hammer the throttle, commit to the steering, and the old Vette comes to life in ways that are enlightening and engaging. It's still terrifying, but it's also utterly worth it.
July 29, 2015
What are we doing pitting our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette against a modern Toyota Camry? I'm not sure we know ourselves, but the answer is probably the same we use to explain any of man's explorations: because it's there.
The V6 Camry we just tested dashed from zero to 60 in 6.6 seconds. The Corvette: 7.9 seconds. The Camry is 1.3 seconds faster through the quarter-mile with a top speed nearly 20 mph faster than the Vette. But on the track, the Camry is nose-heavy and, in the words of Engineering Editor Jay Kavanagh, sloshes "from apex to apex with equal parts understeer and indifference."
The Stingray, meanwhile, comes alive on the road course. It takes a leap of faith to willingly break its bias-ply tires free, but we learned that the less you fear it, the more it rewards.
Out on the track, Road Test Editor Carlos Lago managed to coax the Camry out of its awkward rapport with the track (or as much as one can when working with all-season tires and an automatic transmission), and let the Corvette coax him into wiggly-tailslides that take us back to another era.
July 24, 2015
In case you missed it, Carlos Lago and I took our long-term 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray to the Drive Tastefully rally in Malibu a few weeks ago. Hosted by Petrolicious, the rally was like a beacon for rare classic cars of varying makes. No make was excluded. Brands as common as Ford, Volkswagen Chevrolet and Porsche were all in attendance, but rare breeds from Jaguar, Datsun, Morgan, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Triumph participated too.
Here are some of the unique, lovely, and even strange sights from a beautiful day of motoring.
July 20, 2015
Two weeks ago, Travis and I took our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette on the Petrolicious Drive Tastefully rally. It wasn't a competitive event, but instead a cruise with an eclectic group of cool, mostly European, cars. It was also my first time behind the wheel of our Corvette and I approached the experience with the trepidation of driving an old car for the first time on minimal sleep and not enough coffee.
July 10, 2015
Note: person shown above is not said idiot.
July 8, 2015
Every car we test and rate gets driven on our approximately 115-mile evaluation loop that starts at a gas station near our Santa Monica headquarters, through the Santa Monica mountains, up the Pacific Coast Highway to Camarillo, then back to the same gas station near the office.
This loop has it all: city driving, highway driving, twisty canyon roads, rough pavement and smooth concrete. Although it's not what we consider a fuel economy loop, we often get an indication of how a car will compare to its EPA fuel economy estimates in real-world conditions.
July 7, 2015
We had a dead battery in the 1966 Chevrolet Corvette and needed to get it started so we could drive to the shop. It seemed like the perfect time to test a portable jump starter battery I recently bought for $64. Judging from the size and weight of the lithium-ion battery, I felt it couldn't restart any car, let alone one with a hefty V8.
Still, I followed the directions and was surprised by the result.
July 6, 2015
To and from work. A pizza run. A late night trip to CVS for Children's Tylenol. The ATM and drive-thru. 31 Flavors. The 1966 Chevrolet Corvette and I have done it all together. It has taken my kids to volleyball practice, to a school sports banquet and to their friend's houses.
Basically I've been driving our Sting Ray like a Camry.
July 3, 2015
Last Saturday, editor Carlos Lago and I met at the Edmunds office at an alarmingly early hour. About a month earlier, we had registered our long-term 1966 Chevrolet Corvette for the Drive Tastefully Rally in Malibu, Calif., and there was a 7:00 a.m. call time. At 6:30, we were wheels-up from the office, both needing caffeine but excited for the day ahead.
The event, hosted by Petrolicious, began along Pacific Coast Highway and ended 83 miles later at the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica. Sure, this is no Hot Rod Power Tour across several states, but it was a great chance to get acquainted with the Sting Ray.
July 2, 2015
Part of owning a car like our long-term 1966 Chevrolet Corvette is an increased need for maintenance. Essentially, the car is old, so it's important to check things like oil level and tire pressure regularly. More important, we need to remember: No fancy digital read-outs with warning lights and maintenance schedules here.
July 1, 2015
This post contains photographic evidence of the obvious: Our 1966 Corvette Sting Ray leaks.
And the sky is blue.
June 29, 2015
Earlier this week, I took our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette home for the first time and I had lofty plans. There was an iconic image in my head of a windows-down jaunt up the coast. I toyed with romantic notions about seeing how far I could go before losing radio reception. Maybe I'd stop at some local diner and get a slice of pie or head towards Sunset Boulevard to re-live the kind of 60's Los Angeles experience that can only be found in a Walter Mosley novel. The sky was the limit.
June 25, 2015
When last we checked on our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette, it was parked at our office. As suggested by the characteristic "tick-tick-tick" when we turned the key, the battery was dead. We had a few options.
The first option involved calling AAA. Our annual membership fee of about $50 would cover a tow truck coming to our office to test the battery and give it a jump. For the additional cost of the battery, AAA would also replace it if needed. We decided to try something different.
June 22, 2015
In our last update, the carburetor on our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray was drooling fuel. We took it to John at C&J Engineering to rebuild the carburetor. While it was there, we asked him to dial-in the Vette.
In addition to rebuilding the carburetor, C&J gapped the spark plugs, set the timing and rebuilt the distributor. The car spent one full day at the shop, but was out of service for a total of five days, including four days spent marooned in Cameron's driveway.
After the tune-up, the Stingray ran great. And then it didn't.
June 18, 2015
"Wow, this thing really smells like gasoline," my friend remarked.
Normally, I would chalk up this remark to our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette's exhaust sidepipes, which allow the odor of burnt fuel to waft into the cabin and send its occupants on a trip 50 years into the past.
But we weren't in the car. I had just popped the hood and he was inspecting the Vette's 327 small block. It wasn't the exhaust that reeked of gasoline; it was the engine bay.
June 9, 2015
Much of the appeal behind owning an older car, like our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, is the personalized list of quirks and nuances that accompany it. Old cars are old. Parts break, wear, creak, rattle, stop working when it's wet, stop working when it's dry, require a tap or bang to operate. The list goes on.
At 50 years old, even the most physically fit of human specimens benefit from a little mechanical sympathy. Such is the case with our Sting Ray. Here's a look behind the scenes of our Corvette for the uninitiated:
June 8, 2015
To be clear, that's a broken speedo. Not a broken Speedo. Shortly after being repaired, the speedometer in our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette broke again. Well, it isn't really fair to use the word repaired. It's more like we used a Band-Aid and then it fell off.
June 7, 2015
In the back of my mind, it's there. No sleeping in. Gotta hit the road early. Don't party too hard tonight, else you'll pay for it tomorrow.
Dawn breaks. Slide into jeans. Something with sleeves. It may be late spring in Southern California, but mornings can be brisk. Old-school GM cars like our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette had keys with the teeth only on one side. Turn the key in the door lock, teeth down, press the release. The door hinge creaks a bit, not fully awake yet either.
Sidepipes. Good morning, neighbors.
June 5, 2015
I love old cars. I love how they're primitive compared to what we normally drive. I love how they instantly transport you back to whatever era they came from. Old cars aren't for everyone though, and the Corvette will likely emphasize the line between the love-its and the hate-its.
June 4, 2015
Last week, Mark gave you the inside story of the mid-60s theme behind our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette photo shoot. Now take an in-depth look behind the scenes courtesy our video crew, who captured how the creative crew meshed the technical, conceptual and logistical details into a memorable shoot.
June 3, 2015
Eventually, somebody says it. You're standing around an old car and the conversation turns to its engine, as it always does. Then it comes out.
Bro, put an LS in it. Bro, resto-mod. Bro, pro-touring. Bro, LS swap.
Engine swaps are cool and all, but don't think that dropping a modern V8 into our long-term 1966 Corvette would make it better.
June 2, 2015
Before we enlisted our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette as a daily driver, we first took it to a trusted shop for a safety check. Coast Corvette has been in the Corvette business since the 70s and sits just off Interstate 5 in Anaheim, neighboring a small business called Disneyland.
Chuck, the owner, has spent decades in the automotive world and nearly as long restoring classics, primarily 50s and 60s Corvettes. Ken was turning the wrench on our car, and he has some 30 years of vintage Corvette experience himself. We were in good hands.
We had a few concerns going in, but another caught us by surprise.
June 1, 2015
I'm a big fan of the term "period-correct." Up until the early 1970s, before radial tires took over, bias-ply tires were the norm. What's the difference? Here's a simple explanation from Michelin, but I'll summarize it by saying that radial tires have better compliance characteristics, are less prone to overheat, and provide better traction than bias-ply tires.
Our 1966 Chevrolet Corvette is shod with bias-plies and they clearly demonstrate why radial tires are better. Even when driven conservatively through a turn, you can hear the bias-plies squeal. In one instance, I needed to cross an intersection quickly and the tires spun with very little provocation.
May 29, 2015
It's the phone call you dream about.
"Scott, this is Ted from The Finest Carrier. I just reached Los Angeles and I have your 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray. Where do you want it delivered?"
May 28, 2015
We're on-board with the revolution. We like fuel-efficient V8s, turbocharged four-cylinders, EVs and high-performance hybrids. They're the future and we're headed there one way or another. But like all car people, we're nostalgic.
So we bought an icon.
A Nassau Blue, 300-horsepower V8-powered wedge of classic American desire. We bought a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette. You can read more about our motives here.
When I heard we were buying a '66 Corvette, my first thoughts turned to photography. When we introduced our 1987 Grand National a couple of years ago, I indulged my art director sensibilities on one of the most entertaining projects I've ever been involved with, pairing the imagery of that frenzied, electric decade with one of its iconic cars.
With the popularity of Mad Men entrenching the spirit of the mid-Sixties into today's pop culture, I naturally wanted to bring some of that period flavor to a Corvette shoot. I made my pitch and got the nod.
May 28, 2015
In 1966, just as in 2015, every Corvette was rear-wheel drive, V8-powered and available as a coupe or a convertible.
After much debate and about six weeks of research we decided to pursue a Nassau Blue (the most popular color in 1966) coupe powered by the base and most popular engine, a 300-horsepower, 327-cubic-inch small-block with a 10.5-to-1 compression ratio, and a four-speed manual transmission.